Honey Cake and Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors
During roll call in the bitter cold at Majdanek concentration camp, Rachel Roth distracted herself and the woman around her by describing Shabbat dinners at her home in Warsaw in vivid detail — images of stuffed gefilte fish, steaming bowls of soup and crusted sweet chicken — blotting out the reality of a living hell, if only for a moment.
In Auschwitz, Eva Shainblum found comfort in the remembered taste of her last meal with her family in Transylvania: Rakott kumpli, Hungarian layered potatoes.
And when Max Garcia needed the strength to endure as he was moved from camp to camp, he recited the recipe for his mother’s Joodse Boteerkoeke, Jewish Butter Cake, that he’d memorized as a 10-year-old boy in Amsterdam.
Friendship, prayer and tradition all offered Jewish concentration camp inmates solace as they struggled through starvation, terror and degradation. But memories of their mothers rolling out pastry for strudel, of the aroma of freshly baked challah and of family gathered around tables covered with linen cloths kept them connected to the world — and the people — they had lost, feeding their will to survive.
The Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial Foundation has released an extraordinary collection of the recipes for the food to which survivors clung, that they cooked after liberation to restore their emaciated bodies and fragile souls, that they passed on to their children.
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In partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation